Where do we start with the Holy Spirit? The Spirit of the Lord certainly comes into his own with the wind and fire of Pentecost. But this is not the beginning. We could go to the resurrection of Jesus, and the Spirit of peace and forgiveness that Jesus breathed upon the disciples. But we can go back further. It was the Spirit of God who came upon Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan, beginning his ministry of repentance and the coming near of God’s Kingdom.

Even further, the Holy Spirit was there, acting in the womb of Mary at the Annunciation, bringing about the moment of God’s own human indwelling. Yet, this is not the beginning of the Spirit’s action in the world. For that moment, we need to go back to the moment of creation itself, when the Spirit breathed on the waters to form the earth and then into the nostrils of Adam to form the first human. That is where we need to start with the Holy Spirit; there, at the beginning, in the act of creating life.

The Holy Spirit is God in creating mode: the Spirit creates life at the very beginning; creates the humanity of God at the Incarnation; creates the possibility of renewal in the waters of the Jordan; creates the new life of hope at the resurrection; creates the very life of the Church at Pentecost. As we say in the Creed, we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. The Holy Spirit is God, who creates and re-creates.

What we believe in is what we can then hope and pray for. For what, then, in each of our lives, do we need the gift of life? What might we pray for, that life might flourish within us?

As the Holy Spirit comes into his own at Pentecost, forming a new creation in the Church, who is the living Body of Christ, his overwhelming, superabundant, even excessive power to create life should not pass us by. Our world – in all its natural power and human resourcefulness – is nonetheless destined to atrophy and to decay. Our natural world, and the human worlds we inhabit, are destined to die.

But this is not the way or the world of the Holy Spirit; the Spirit’s world is life – or better, it is life giving. And it is into this living world that we have been transported; through faith, by grace. We were recreated in Baptism, so that we might have life in Christ. We have died with him, so that we might rise with him. As St Paul said: ‘Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit.’

The signs that we have life in the Spirit are named by Paul as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the signs of Christ operative in our lives through the Spirit. They are what ought to mark us out as different in the worlds which we inhabit. They are what ought to be the signs of our flourishing lives. So let the Spirit come to change us; so that we may look different within the worlds we inhabit.

As we come to the conclusion of our Easter time, by celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit as wind and fire, take courage that you have received the Spirit’s life, you have been recreated. Take that spirit, which is your life, into the world you inhabit.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in us the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.